Monday, 27 December 2010

swing time

And already Bookstart appears to have been saved - but we await to see what actually happens.
Now it's that inbetweeny time before new year, time to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off...

Sunday, 26 December 2010

christmas message

The Government's decision to cut all funding to Booktrust for Bookstart, Booktime and Booked Up
is diabolical and needs to be resisted. I'm wondering if we can't harness the power of the crying baby to help convince a re-think. 
Flash mobs of wailing children and pushy parents could be highly effective I reckon, 
leading to mass read-ins at highstreet banks perhaps.

Friday, 10 December 2010

shining on

My band the Bettertones do a latin version of this - but the song below isn't it.
We recorded Yolanda at a memorial concert for our much missed friend, comedian Linda Smith,
after her tragic death nearly five years ago.

Find more artists like The Bettertones at Myspace Music

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

doodling 2

...and this one's of Cliff Prior, CEO of Unltd, drawn on traditional paper (actually the agenda for the meeting) at a useful workshop on scaling up community enterprises.


Made using Brushes on the iPad: drawings of speakers at Lisbon LIR+ Conference
include Jose Afonso Furtado

why the net matters

Why the Net Matters, Canongate's latest iPad app, is a text in praise of networkedness By David Eagleman, given stylish illumination with pictures, web links plus those nice rotatable graphics they can do on the tablet, so that you can spin a picture of Michelangelo's David through 360 degrees. I read it in one sitting, engrossed. I liked the navigation and found it was shorter than I'd expected it to be, thought this bold restatement of the political and social potential of the web was useful and intelligent in its simplicity, and found something about it slightly quaint and retro. Overall the app reminded me of a pop up book, brightly coloured and with a visual ingenuity that only sometimes added greatly to the text. And because it's designed for digital, it reminds me that we're very used to words, links and pictures on line, but we usually call them websites and expect them to be free. A very enjoyable reading experience that asks more questions than it answers - which is always a good thing. 

Monday, 6 December 2010


Music video of the week: John Cage's 4 mins 33 performed on Ukulele.

I organised a staging of 4' 33'' in the Music Department of Birmingham Central Library, performed by pianist John Gough, as part of a festival of Silence in the Library, in the 1990s.

Now I'm looking forward to hearing the Christmas single, with Bob Dylan, Ludvig Van Beethoven, Billie Holliday and George Formby just some of the musicians who won't be heard playing on it. 

from publication to conversation

Freiburg looked ridiculously Christmassy last weekend when I went to speak at the Schreibwares conference, a thoroughly enjoyable experience. A panel discussion including WG Sebald fan Valie  Djordjevic from Berlin and Amsterdam academic Joost Smiers, caused some debate when Joost advocated scrapping copyright law entirely.

We're moving from a culture of publication to one of conversation in which some contribute tweets and comments, others fashion major texts in book form. But our legal framework is linked fundamentally to a model involving the mass distribution of stuff for passive consumers.

The model I'd like to develop through the Unlibrary involves the skills of a deal maker able to help the producers of online books/sites/things to find the best business model for their individual projects large and small, including templates for profit shares between all involved.
Please contact me if you think you might be able to advise.

Thanks to Kirsten Reach for sending us the video below. The best bit is the stretchable screen - I'd like one of those.  And the toothbrushing bit is good - is the mirror powered by the toothbrushing I wonder?

From Writing & The Digital Life: 

University for Strategic Optimism & Genetic Moo on Resonance FM Wednesday Dec 8th 2010.

Join Furtherfield on Resonance 104.4FM
Wednesday, Dec 8th 2010.
Time 7-8pm (UK - GMT).
Hosts: Marc Garrett, Irini Papdimitriou & Jonathon Munro
Special Guests: Tess Quixote and √Čtienne Lantier from the University for Strategic Optimism, Nicola Schauerman and Tim Pickup from Genetic Moo.

Info & downloads of past broadcasts (scroll down page):
Live Resonance FM broadcast:

This critically acclaimed broadcast is every Wednesday evening at 7-8pm, a series of hour long live interviews with people working at the edge of contemporary practices in art, technology & social change; discussing events and controversies, exhibitions, artworks and their social contexts.

Marc will be interviewing:
Two members from the University for Strategic Optimism, Tess Quixote and √Čtienne Lantier. USO have formed a university based on the principal of free and open education, a return of politics to the public, and the politicisation of public space.

As university buildings are boarded up their flexible and critical group physically inhabit banks and shopping outlets as public spaces for open debate; using these public areas as places for introductory lectures to their "course entitled ‘Higher Education, Neo-Liberalism and the State’." - View two examples of their recent public lectures at Lloyds TSB, London Bridge ( and Tesco Superstore Old Kent Road, London (

Friday, 3 December 2010

stationery and downloads

I'm setting off early in the morning to Freiburg, hoping to arrive for the STATIONERY conference there, at which I'm speaking, snow and ice permitting. For the journey I have on my iPad a pre-release download of WHY THE NET MATTERS by David Eagleman, coming very soon from Canongate - and it looks utterly beautiful as well as interesting, with spinnable graphics and nifty navigation. I'll report back on the whole reading experience on my return...hopefully.

The decline of the book from its position as the dominant social medium has been prophesied for decades. The book was threatened with a loss of importance more than half a century ago, as film and television became truly mass media. The book weathered all this change in the media, but today is faced with new and major challenges. What does the future of the printed word look like? Will we experience the end of the medium of the book or the “death of the printed press”, as predicted by communication theoreticians, marketing experts and publishers? Can a media revolution really be expected or is it more a matter of parallel developments in the media, of completely normal shifts in importance? Publishers, critics, academics, journalists, literary agents and authors will gether to discuss these and many other questions pertaining to the future of the book in the Alter Wiehrebahnhof in Freiburg from the 3rd to the 5th December.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

all power to the imagination!!

The protests against cuts to education are leading to some radical and playful adventures in learning.

The University of Strategic Optimism has been holding open lectures in Tescos on the Old Kent Road, while in Leeds The Really Open University recently held an excellent three day event, RE-IMAGINING THE UNIVERSITY (they also sell a wicked tee-shirt).

Meanwhile back at the UNLIBRARY, we're looking to provide a local setting for people to devise and run their own informal short courses and learning journeys, filling the gap between the formal education which is now becoming so prohibitively expensive and 'just reading stuff'. The public library is where that learning belongs. With ferocious cuts looming over libraries, we argue that these are still essential public spaces for democratic learning and dreaming. We are also committed to building an open community of creative collaborators which is resilient enough to survive and thrive in all circumstances, using digital means to connect, reflect and organise.

To join the Unlibrary, go to To read more about our Hornsey branch (well, ok, the only one so far!) see this article from the Ham & High Broadway.